Harvest Time Is Family Time
By Zippy Duvall
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: fall is my favorite time of year! Farmers have been working hard for months tending their crops, and now it is time to harvest the fruits of their labor. Fall is also a time when families and communities come together to celebrate with festivals and football games.
Just like our farmers, our youth have been working hard preparing for another exciting season of fall sports. It’s game day, and I’m proud to announce that GFB will continue to sponsor the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). Our sponsorship covers all GHSA competitions. In addition to football, look for our GFB logo at any of the state high school sport competitions you attend this fall, next winter and spring.
Last year our GHSA sponsorship reached 683,394 spectators and 67,531 participants who attended the GHSA playoffs and championship events during the 2011- 2012 season. An additional 500,036 people saw our logo as they watched GHSA events on the GHSA digital sports network and the Georgia Public Broadcasting website. GFB’s sponsorship was also promoted on the GHSA website and social media, which attracted more than 2 million visits during the last season.
Many of our county Farm Bureau leaders and county agents attended the championship events held this past year and were able to present state trophies to their hometown teams. This is a perfect way to share our message with Georgia that Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization involved in our local communities.
GFB has been a longstanding supporter of the academic, research and athletic programs at Georgia’s oldest land-grant institution, the University of Georgia. For the second year, we are partnering with the UGA Athletic Association to promote our organization and Georgia agriculture at UGA home football games with ads on the back of the tickets. We figure there’s no easier way to reach 92,746 people at one time, and we want Georgia fans to think about the farmers who grew the food they enjoy while tailgating.
This year our ticket ad highlights GFB’s 75th anniversary. You’ll also see GFB promoted in the programs sold at each game and during commercials aired during the pre-game, game and postgame shows. These ads will remind Georgians Farm Bureau is a local organization, present in communities statewide.
I’m also pleased to announce GFB will be sponsoring the football program at Georgia Southern University this fall. Our Farm Bureau logo is displayed on the GSU National Championship decals on the three main gate concourses through which 90 percent of GSU fans enter Allen E. Paulson Stadium and on a banner at the stadium’s elevator shaft. GFB will also be promoted during radio and television commercials aired during football, basketball and baseball broadcasts.
Since reviving its football program in the early 1980s, the GSU Eagles have won six Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) National Championships and eight Southern Conference Championships. With a growing student enrollment of more than 20,000 and an alumni base of about 75,000, we feel partnering with GSU will help us reach an additional audience.
These various sports sponsorships will remind Georgians about the importance of agriculture and highlight our organization to younger generations who are our future leaders.
For Georgia’s agriculture community fall means making a trip to Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie. The show, set for Oct. 16-18, offers visitors the chance to see the latest farm equipment and production research displayed by some 1,200 exhibitors. You can also watch cotton and peanuts being harvested.
Expo is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and Georgia Farm Bureau is proud to be part of the celebration. We’ve been an Expo exhibitor since the first show in 1978.
This year we’re continuing our partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) to highlight Georgia’s number one industry at the Georgia Agriculture Building. Stop by and visit us right inside the main gate. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and I will host a Coke and peanut social from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17. Our staff will be on hand to share how our organizations are working to promote Georgia agriculture. There will also be multiple cooking demonstrations each day to highlight the delicious, nutritious food Georgia farmers produce.
Speaking of food grown in Georgia, GFB is proud to sponsor the GDA’s Georgia Grown program. The GDA has promoted Georgia-grown commodities for years but has relaunched the initiative during the past year to increase Georgians’ awareness of the program. Since 1986, GFB has promoted farmers who sell their commodities straight to consumers through our GFB Certified Farm Markets (CFM). With 109 participating markets, the CFM Program has seen a 56 percent increase in members over the last four years. Both of these programs are designed to connect consumers with the farmers who grow their food. Many of our CFMs are participating in the Georgia Grown program.
If you’ve lived in Georgia for any time you know how lucky we are to have farmers who provide us with locally grown produce, peanuts, beef, chicken, milk and eggs. Imagine going one year without being able to enjoy Georgia apples, peanuts, peaches or blueberries! Georgia agriculture is so well recognized that the Georgia National Guard is preparing to send a third team of guard members to Afghanistan to help Afghan farmers improve their farming skills in an effort to stabilize the country’s economy and rebuild its agricultural infrastructure after more than 30 years of war.
The University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences has provided training for all three Agribusiness Development Teams (ADT) that deployed from Georgia. ADT I, formed from members of the 201st Regional Support Group (RSG), deployed from Fort Gordon last year and returned this past April. ADT II, which consists of members of the 265th RSG based out of Metter, assumed command of the Aghan ag mission in April and will continue to serve until ADT III relieves them next spring. The third team will again consist of members of the 201st RSG, and eight members of ADT 1 from Augusta, Atlanta, Clarksville, Dalton and Ringgold are scheduled to deploy a second time.
I had the chance to speak to all three teams during their training at UGA, and I can tell you that each of these teams has consisted of brave men and women who love our country and are willing to serve so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms of home, like eating fresh boiled peanuts while watching football.
I think it’s important to note that our military’s strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan is to repair their farming infrastructure. This shows how important it is that a nation is able to feed itself. The agriculture community has a saying that being able to grow our own food is a matter of national security. If you don’t believe that, just look at Afghanistan.
You may have read or heard media reports this year about the farm bill Congress has been working on. Critics of the farm bill say a farm bill isn’t needed when commodity prices are high. Yes, prices for most commodities are higher right now, but farm prices have always been cyclical, and they will most likely drop again. High commodity prices are also being offset by higher production costs.
In a country where agriculture is one of the main economic engines of our economy, we need to make sure we have a safety net for agriculture, not just for farmers, but for the benefit of all Americans so we can continue to feed ourselves.
When you hear the media talk about the farm bill, keep in mind that only about 10 percent of the total United States Department of Agriculture budget is allocated for farm programs. Conservation and forestry programs account for eight percent and 74 percent is allocated to food assistance and nutrition programs that help needy Americans.
Georgia Farm Bureau began 75 years ago out of the need Georgia farmers had for representation at the state Capitol and in the halls of Congress, and our purpose remains the same, to be the voice of Georgia’s farmers.
Through the years our organization has grown as we began to offer member services such as insurance and discount benefits to meet our members’ changing needs. Membership has been the core component of Georgia Farm Bureau since it formed in 1937, and it will continue to be.
As we grow older and mature in God’s word, he expects us to work hard and prepare for the harvest. It has been a long, hot summer with many challenges for all Georgians. Whether it be our farmers, our student athletes or our men and women in uniform, the season has been long, but now the fields are ripe for harvest.
In the New International Version of the Bible we read in John 4:35 that Jesus said, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!”
God bless you and your family during this wonderful harvest season.
(Zippy Duvall, a farmer from Greene County, is president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, the state's largest general farm organization.)
© 2012 Georgia Farm Bureau Federation